Dear Weekend Jolters,
Do not be confused by this missive’s subject line: We know it’s not Christmas. Nope, we just have a thing around here for . . . reflecting. We can’t help but look back to our movement’s roots. To the once-young Men of Old. Women too (Love you Priscilla! Maggie!). For nostalgia? Sure. But more so, to refresh our thoughts and contemplations as to why indeed we are conservative, why we believe what we believe. The picture attending this missive is of Our Founder and the great Russell Kirk, the centenary of whose death will be celebrated later this year by various organizations, including National Review Institute, the The Russell Kirk Center | Cultural Renewal, and The University Bookman. Just wanted to get this on Ye Olde RadarScreen.
Related: Below I link to a smart NRO piece by Liam Warner about Kirk making the case for the centrality of virtue.
More Related: A few weeks back, on his Ricochet Q & A podcast, Jay Nordlinger had a terrific interview with George Nash, the great historian, a.k.a. “Mr. Conservative.” There’s Kirk Talk aplenty. Do give that a listen.
Can It Be? Yes, Even More Related: George will be a speaker on the forthcoming NR 2018 Buckley Legacy Conservative Cruise. You should be on the cruise too! Get all the info you need, and more, at www.nrcruise.com.
And while we’re hawking events: You really must join us this October in Chicago for NRI’s fifth annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner.
With all business having been conducted, we’ll echo the Great Gleason . . . and away we go.
1. Theresa, love, you’re blowing it. The UK PM gives Brexit the cooties treatment. From our editorial slapping the Tories’ Remain dalliance:
This rising hysteria of Remainer arguments may be due to the fact that the Chequers package, devised in secret by May and her aide Olly Robbins, is meeting massive and stubborn resistance from the public and in particular from the Tory public. Moreover, this resistance seems to harden the more the policy is explained — in part because, as the distinguished Tory lawyer Martin Howe, QC, points out with forensic relentlessness, most of the explanations are, ahem, terminological inexactitudes.
2. Raise tariffs, get boomeranged in the economic noggin, then bail out those boomeranged? How about . . . not raising tariffs in the first place. Our editorial strongly argues against the Trump Tariff-instigated $12-billion farmer bailout. From the editorial (warning: You might need a thesaurus with this passage):
We are right to push the Chinese to end their misbehavior, but the administration’s course is not the way to do it. The reasons should by now be pellucid. While the U.S. has indiscriminately imposed tariffs on intermediate and capital goods — often raising costs for American manufacturers in the process — foreign countries have shrewdly targeted consumer goods and commodities that will cause political problems for Republicans. And if Trump’s goal is to solve the problems in the agricultural economy, this bailout is insufficient: Many businesses that rely on the farm economy but do not grow crops themselves will not see any benefits, and the payments will lead to further market distortions as the government artificially drives up demand. Regardless, the president has resorted to cut-rate dirigisme in service of nakedly political goals, a sign that he is being out-maneuvered.
A Dozen (and Then Some) Dramatic and Delicious Conservative Confections
1. Well isn’t that nice: Kat Timpf reports that admissions officers at the Dartmouth Business school are going to evaluate applicants on their . . . niceness. Rants Her Meowness:
Now, I’m certainly not anti-nice. Like most people, I would much rather spend time around a nice person than a mean person, and I also like when I see good things — like business-school acceptance — happening to nice people. Still, I really don’t think that this is the best way for Tuck to be deciding which students it will and will not admit.
You see, “niceness” is not exactly an easy quality to identify in a person. There are plenty of fake people out there who may seem nice because they’re smiley and friendly but who are actually not good people. Conversely, there are also people out there who might seem stuck-up because they’re not smiley and friendly, but who are just shy and actually very nice at the core. I have a hard time believing that the admissions people are going to be able to tell how “nice” someone is — especially through something as cursory as reading an answer to an essay prompt.
2. For those who think a generational turnover will houseclean the liberal louts and perverts from the ranks of Catholicism’s clergy . . . nope. Michael Brendan Dougherty has a sensational piece in the wake of the scandal about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, arch lefty and groomer of seminarians. From his essay:
First, we underestimated the damage that can be inflicted by a dying generation on its way out. If your plan is to gain territory because the other side will cede it naturally, you are vulnerable to stunning reversals when that side decides to fight back. Not long after Pope Francis was elected, the type of appointments made in America began to change. The traditional-leaning and “relatively young” Cardinal Raymond Burke was cast off the powerful Congregation of Bishops in Rome. While he had been there, Burke had likely seen to the elevation of tradition-minded men to replace old progressives, men like Bishop Salvatore Cordileone in San Francisco, Jose Gomez in Los Angeles, Timothy Dolan in New York, and Charles Chaput in Philadelphia. When Burke was removed, he was replaced by the icy Cardinal Wuerl, the successor to Cardinal McCarrick in Washington. And suddenly Cardinal McCarrick’s personal lobbying became instrumental in the ascension of progressives to the College of Cardinals, men like Blase Cupich in Chicago, Kevin Farrell sent to a Roman office, and Joseph Tobin in Newark. (Tobin, you may remember, recently tweeted what he intended to send as a direct message, “Nighty Nighty, baby. I love you.”) The careers of Burke’s men stalled out. No red hat for Chaput, nor for Cordileone, nor, shockingly, for Gomez, the leader of one of the largest archdioceses on the planet. In fact, Gomez has been gelded. His scandal-ridden predecessor, Cardinal Mahony, roams the diocese against his wishes, and beyond his control.
3. And as if that wasn’t enough, MBD looks at the mealy-mouthed reaction of America’s Catholic Cardinals to McCarrick’s decades of debauchery. It’s a doozie! From his powerful piece:
A spokeswoman for the diocese of Metuchen said that she had spoken to Cardinal Tobin and that he “has expressed his intention to discuss this tragedy with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to articulate standards that will assure high standards of respect by bishops, priests, and deacons for all adults. ”
An expressed intention to articulate standards endorsing high standards. Let them eat standards. This is the moral imagination and moral vocabulary of Cardinal McCarrick’s peers in the Church. They need new policies to confront predators; the fear of perdition doesn’t move them to do so. Nor does respect for the seminarians or their congregants. Nor does self-respect. The reaction of the cardinals goes some way toward explaining how a man like McCarrick flourished in their ranks.
4. More McCarrick: George Weigel wonders how a pope with institutional moxie, such as Pius XI, might have dealt with the seminarian groomer.
5. As no one else can, Andy McCarthy explains what the FISA applications expose, redactions and all. From the get-go of his piece:
On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.
6. My dear old pal, the great Hadley Arkes, thinks through a strategy for Senate Republicans when the abortion issue rears its head in the upcoming Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. From his essay:
But as an issue for Ending the Conversation — or making the Democrats lose their appetite for raising the issue any longer — nothing stands as decisive now as the votes already taken on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. That act was passed in the House in January of this year, a follow-up to a bill passed into law in 2002 and billed as the “most modest first step” in legislating on abortion: an act to bar the killing of a child who survived an abortion. That bill was brought forth to break out information that most of the public would find jolting: that the right to abortion was not confined to the first three months of pregnancy, that it extended through the entire pregnancy — and even when the child was born. In one notable case of a child who had survived an abortion for 21 days, a well-known federal judge ruled that “the fetus in this case was not a person whose life state law could protect.” It was a child marked for abortion — which is to say, the right to abortion meant the right to an “effective” abortion, or a dead child.
7. George Leef follows the campus lefties and their ongoing jihad against triggering statues and memorials.
8. Yo mullahs: The Trump tweets are nothing compared to the economic crackdown that is about to descend on you. Rich Lowry peers into Iran’s future.
9. Fred Bauer says that without a sense of common identity and mutual commitment, self-government loses much of its persuasive force. From his essay:
Of course, a society without any consensus might not just have a hard time sustaining the welfare state — it might also struggle to sustain the conditions of liberty. This consensus need not be absolutely rigid. Everyone doesn’t have to wear the same color shirt on Thursday or agree that Nickelback is the best band ever. But, without some broad commitment to certain key norms and institutions (such as the rule of law, the results of elections, mutual tolerance, and so forth), a society is likely to dissolve into endless fratricidal warfare. Such overarching norms help ensure that tribal disagreements can be modulated within a greater civic order. And, as I’ve just implied, some of these norms might be norms of limitation — to allow one’s fellow Americans to live, worship, and think differently. These norms might find there to be more virtue in mercy and tolerance than vengeance.
10. Ahoy matey, thinking there be too few truckers? Well this watery idea will vang yer boom and shiver yer timbers, writes Colin Grabow: Repeal the Jones Act! From this very smart piece:
Passed in 1920, this law mandates that ships transporting cargo between two points in the United States be domestically flagged, owned, crewed, and built. Intended to bolster the U.S. maritime sector, the Jones Act has instead been a case study in the failures of protectionism. Absent foreign competition, U.S. shipbuilders produce vessels whose price is as much as eight times higher than those built abroad. This disincentive to the purchase of new vessels means we have fewer ships and a fleet that is old and inefficient.
11. Congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, has a proposal for a greenhouse-gas tax. Like most tax proposals, it’s . . . dumb. So says Benjamin Zycher. From his piece:
So this proposal is preposterous as environmental policy regardless of what one assumes about the science and dangers of anthropogenic climate change. But it is serious in terms of wealth redistribution. With a 33 percent reduction, U.S. GHG emissions in 2030 would be about 4.9 billion metric tons; annual revenues from this tax would be $125-$150 billion, 70 percent of which would go to the Highway Trust Fund as a replacement for the federal fuels tax. Revenues from the latter in fiscal year 2016 were about $36.4 billion, so this proposal would double or triple annual federal receipts for the highway fund, to be paid by almost all energy-using sectors rather than the direct beneficiaries of federal highway outlays.
12. A century ago, the Romanovs, prisoners of the new Red regime, were dragged to a basement, murdered, and then taken to a mineshaft and dumped down it. Maddy Kearns remembers the end of a dynasty, and the beginnings of its bloody successor.
13. Later this year we’ll be celebrating Russell Kirk’s centennial. So take a look at this essay by Liam Warner about the importance of Kirk to the foundation and development of the conservative movement. From the piece:
In Kirk’s conception of society, free speech plainly does not extend to indecent material, and the Christian standard is the best we have for judging what is indecent. In the libertarian conception, which is now dominant in the conservative movement, free speech should be as broad as possible, and the virtuous citizen can decide for himself whether to patronize lewd media. Libertarians’ almost paranoid wariness of government action at any level denies the very concept of public decency.
Kirk would probably find such paranoia reckless, particularly in view of the catastrophic decline in traditional morality since World War II. Meyer and the libertarians would likely attribute this decline to religious leaders’ failure to persuade people to adhere to their doctrines, and they would assert that the government is unable to coerce virtue.
14. Marlo Safi is the new Collegiate Network Fellow, and she will be working at NR for the next year. The mostly forgotten 1933 Simile Massacre, in which Assyrian communities were wiped out by murdering Iraqi soldiers, is not forgotten by her in the important piece. From it:
Assyrians were never afforded the opportunity to heal and properly document what happened to their community. Today, they still don’t have a dignified memorial site for those who perished in the massacre. The bones of those who were callously burned in mass graves remain scattered, and can be seen protruding through the dirt in a neglected and haunting ossuary treated as a waste yard. Atop a large, dirt hill overlooking the gravesite is a sign reading “Simmel Archaeological Hill.” Trash is carelessly tossed among the bones, and the relatives of the deceased have been prohibited from unearthing the bodies for proper burial.
Four Articles from the New Issue
The August 13 issue is hot off the presses, and for those of you who are members of NRPLUS — if not, then you really need to subscribe — you can access the issue pronto. That said, here are four selections from the lofty magazine’s lofty pages:
1. The cover essay, by liberal Alexander Nazaryan, explains why he has given up on the mecca of Berkeley. Chew on this slice:
This past April, posters appeared on Berkeley’s utility poles — wooden beams scabrous with staples and shreds of paper, the remnants of older handbills calling for a protest against the Trump administration or, just as frequently, the construction of market-rate condominium buildings. “Prepare Now for the People’s Park Riots of 2018,” the new notice declared (“Date and Time to be announced”). While the riots were presumably being planned, the poster urged concerned citizens to contact Berkeley’s chief spokesman, Dan Mogulof, and the city’s mayor, a hapless and bumblingly ambitious young progressive named Jesse Arreguín who in 2016 earned an endorsement from Bernie Sanders and beat an establishment candidate on the same night that Donald Trump won the White House.
The communards were being summoned to People’s Park once again because Berkeley had declared its intent to finally reclaim its land (not a decade too soon!) and build student housing there. Berkeley’s campus is terrifically overcrowded; according to the university, it can currently house only one-fifth of its 42,000 students, leaving the rest to hunt for dwellings in the nation’s most viciously expensive housing market. The new dormitories to be erected on the site of People’s Park would house about 1,000; there would also be, according to a university press release, “75 to 125 apartments that will provide safe and supervised living for homeless Berkeley residents.”
While this may seem like a munificent gesture, not to mention an effective one, those for whom People’s Park is hallowed ground saw only an affront. Ergo, there had to be riots.
2. Pulitzer Prize-winner Jerry Kammer writes a major essay on the worksite-enforcement failures that are central to America’s immigration-policy problems. Here’s a slice:
Today, in the aftermath of President Trump’s similarly strenuous campaign to stem the flow of Central Americans across the Rio Grande, leading Democrats are calling for ICE to be abolished completely. Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) has suggested that immigration enforcement is the work of racist bigots. “We have to stop vilifying and criminalizing whole populations of people because they came and arrived here from south of the border!” she proclaimed last year. Meanwhile Trump, while declaring an urgent need for a wall across the Mexican border, has shown scant interest in repairing the virtual wall around the American jobs market that Congress long ago promised but has abjectly failed to deliver.
Every feature of the widening gyre that is the modern immigration debate — outrage, efforts to delegitimize all enforcement, a pro-enforcement backlash that sometimes targets all immigration, and a political environment that smothers efforts to find common ground — is a result of the colossal failure of the last major immigration-reform law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Known as IRCA, it stands as one of the most consequential failures of governance in our recent history, and we cannot understand how we got ourselves in this mess unless we understand how IRCA failed to earn its ambitious name.
3. Jay Nordlinger profiles nonagenarian Thea Musgrave, the Scottish-American composer. Do read it, right here.
4. Cell phones be darned: Graham Hillard makes the case for the land line. From the article:
To go without a cell phone in 2018 is to provoke both wonder and indignation. Snake handlers and pansexuals inspire less anthropological curiosity, lawyers and used-car salesmen less rage. Among the questions I’ve received (the most common — an astonished “How do you do that?!” — neatly illustrates the snugness of technology’s shackles) are inquiries into my trustworthiness (“You’re lying, right?”), my sociability (“Have you no friends?”), my sanity (“Are you psychotic?”), and the health and safety of my children (“They’re dead on the side of the road somewhere, aren’t they?”). The common denominator of these reactions is their implication that I have violated an unassailable 21st-century covenant—that, in my unwillingness to get with the mobile program, I have unfitted myself for polite society and, like Huck Finn’s father, can be reformed only with a shotgun.
That I have not yet been fired on, I consider purely a matter of happenstance.
Because, of course, “Thou shalt be connected” is one of the civil and economic commandments of our time. To break it produces serious annoyance. By going phoneless, I have spoiled social opportunities, caused my colleagues inconvenience, given my family grounds for worry when circumstances have delayed me, and risked setting myself up as a scold and a fool. I have forfeited the breezy conviviality of text chains and Instagram and have missed out on services — Uber, Seamless — that clearly ease city living. Were I a single man, I would now be preparing to die alone.
1. On The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg, RFC’s David Bahnsen, author of Crisis of Responsibility: Our Cultural Addiction to Blame and How You Can Cure It, cross-pollinates to discuss whether China is poised to dominate the world, whether the 2008 financial crisis was the fault of Wall Street, and much more. You gotta listen, and you gotta do that here.
2. So on the latest episode of Radio Free California, David and his dynamic other half, Will Swaim, have at Luke Thompson’s recent major NR piece on California’s problems. It’s a great program, which you can catch here.
3. Episode 102 of The Editors — titled “Coherence and Chaos” — features El Jefe Lowry with MBD, Reihan, and Charlie in a lively tussle over trade issues, followed by a discussion of Trump’s Iran and NATO diplomacy, and finish off by glancing at the Cohen tape. Groove to the tussle here.
4. On the new episode of The McCarthy Report, Rich and Andy discuss the many grey areas of the Carter Page FISA warrant, the information gaps of the Cohen tape, the new clamor for Rosenstein’s impeachment, and the possibility of a Trump and Mueller conversation. Hear ye, here.
6. Sean Spicer is the big-kahuna guest on the new episode of The Jamie Weinstein Show. You’re gonna want a bowl of popcorn for this one.
7. JJM gets the great Mona Charen to spill her guts onThe Bookmonger about her new book, Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. Listening matters too: Accomplish that here.
8. It’s a big agenda for David and Alexandra on the new episode on Ordered Liberty: the heavily-redacted FISA applications, the difference between James Gunn and Roseanne Barr, and a terrible abuse of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Grab the headphones and listen.
9. On Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, National Heritage Academies boss Brian Britton talk shop about the NHA mission and vast accomplishments. Do lend an ear here.
10. I especially hope yawl will listen to the recent episode of Jay’s Q&Apodcast, featuring as his guest businessman Bill Browder, thugocrat Putin’s white whale. Listen here. And then there is Jay’s subsequent interview with Kyle Parker, the House of Representative staffer who is largely responsible for the Magnitsky Act. Which makes him another top target of Putin. Listen to the podcast here.
EXTRA: You should read Jay’s early-2018 profile of Browder and his family.
Point of Personal Privilege
In which I condemn the attempt to bring leftist-style “identity politics” to the Connecticut Republican party’s forthcoming primaries.
1. Over at The Catholic Thing, Matthew Hanley, in an essay on the Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce, provides an understanding of our secular era. From his piece:
As a result, we now inhabit a technocratic society that is radically irreligious: any thought of matters pertaining to the divine in man, to his interiority, is deemed meaningless — totally irrelevant. Del Noce would not have been the least bit surprised by the recent revelations that social media giants are censoring “traditional” (i.e., mainly Christian) viewpoints; this is only the culmination of the broad pattern he saw emerging.
2. At Law & Liberty, Emina Melonic makes the case for rereading Michael Oakshott. From the essay:
Politics or political activity for Oakeshott is very much connected to the idea and reality of the community. It is “an activity of attending to the general arrangements of a set of people whom chance or choice have brought together.” Politics is relational in nature and it is in those relations that we learn how to navigate through any community which we may be part of. Unlike political ideology, political activity is not primarily concerned with theoretical musings but what kind of human beings are created in the process of politics. With this argument, Oakeshott affirms the dialogue between the individual and the community.
Politics is an act, but not one identical to activism. In our current state of affairs, we witness ideology daily in empty and meaningless slogans, whether it comes from established media figures, protests, or general social media exchanges among people. It all amounts to what we may call ‘hashtag politics.’ We understand the activity of politics when we recognize that the world we inhabit is not a haphazard mess but a “concrete whole.” The actual political act extends beyond static terms, which are the territory of ideology. Rather, a political act has the “source of its movement within itself.” What Oakeshott means is that politics, by nature, is a movable act dependent upon individual thought.
3. For Gatestone Institute, Douglas Murray castigates anti-Israeli sentiments of Britain’s Foreign Office, obsessed with claims to the Golan Heights. From his piece:
According to the British Foreign Office, the Golan Heights are ‘occupied’. They have been ‘occupied’ — according to the logic of the UK Foreign Office — since 1967, when Israel took the land from the invading forces of Syria. Ever since then, the Israelis have had the benefit of this strategic position and the Syrian regime has not. This fact, half a century on, still strikes the British Foreign Office as regrettable, and a wrong to be righted in due course.
Of course, since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the official position of the UK government has become ever-harder to justify. For example, if the Israeli government were at some point over the last seven years suddenly to have listened to the wisdom of the Foreign Office in London and handed over the strategic prize of the Golan, to whom should it have handed it? Should Israel be persuaded to hand over the territory to the Assad regime in Damascus? It is true that, throughout the course of the Syrian civil war, the one bit of territory to which the Syrian regime has laid claim and which it has not been able to barrel-bomb and otherwise immiserate the people there has been the Golan Heights. Only in the Golan has anybody in this ‘Greater Syria’ been able to live free from the constant threat of massacre and ethnic, religious or political cleansing.
4. The New Criterion remembers Tom Wolfe.
5. The College Fix reports on the new great scandal: People are prejudiced against black robots. I kid you not. Read the story here.
6. Powerful and disturbing, from Quillette: Matthew Blackwell looks at the Academic Left and its denial of Cambodian genocide. From his piece:
Amazingly, even as Cambodia disintegrated, the Khmer Rouge benefitted from unsolicited apologetics from intellectuals at the West’s august universities. Just as Mao, Stalin, and Hitler enjoyed disproportionate popularity among academics and university students, Pol Pot and his promise of a communist utopia in South East Asia elicited sharp defences from many radical Western academics. In what is now known by some historians as the ‘The Standard Total Academic View,’ these professors downplayed reports of atrocities perpetrated in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and printed vicious attacks against anyone who disagreed.
Reports of cities being emptied by the regime’s forced marches, for instance, were explained away as a necessary policy to prevent starvation in the country. “What was portrayed as a destructive, backward-looking policy motivated by doctrinaire hatred was actually a rationally conceived strategy for dealing with the urgent problems that faced postwar Cambodia,” wrote Gareth Porter and George Hilderbrand in their 1977 book Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution. “Cambodia is only the latest victim of the enforcement of an ideology that demands that social revolutions be portrayed as negatively as possible, rather than as responses to real human needs which the existing social and economic structure was incapable of meeting.” The authors didn’t have the direct data on food levels in Cambodia required to make this claim. Nor were they able to assess conditions on the ground, since the regime had expelled all Western observers under a policy even more strict than that adopted by North Korea today.
Small world: NR Buckley fellow Teddy Kupfer’s pop (Charles) has written a book about the Baltimore Orioles’ glory years. Something Magic: The Baltimore Orioles, 1979-1983 gets a healthy dose of thought, attention, and praise from Jay Nordlinger, who loves the National Pastime and his Tigers. From his reflection / review:
If this book has a dominant figure, it’s Earl Weaver, the fiery little sage who managed the Orioles from 1968 to 1982 (and again in 1985 and ’86). He was “baseball’s best manager,” says Kupfer, frankly if not unchallengeably. Weaver was best known for the tantrums he threw at umpires.
Is that how he was best known by Oriole fans themselves? No, as Kupfer shrewdly notes. That’s how we, the great non-Oriole public, best knew him. Baltimoreans, living with him day to day, had a better sense of how canny he was.
I am anxious to flip through the book’s pages for one of my obsessions’ sake: To see if the St. Louis Browns are mentioned. Not that they need to be. But damn it would be nice if somehow, some way, they were.
It’s late as I finish this and there is no ice cream left in the refrigerator! This offering-it-up for Purgatory’s souls stuff is hard for the sweet-toothed. OK, you have a sweet weekend. Count to 10 before you let loose. Don’t kick the dog. Be kind to spiders. And enjoy God’s profound blessings.
Send pictures of sundaes to firstname.lastname@example.org.